The news has just come down that a procedural vote on the Defense Authorization Bill, which includes language to allow for the repeal of the nation’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law, has failed, falling three votes short of the 60 needed to move forward. From MSNBC:
Ultimately, Majority Leader Harry Reid called for the vote without having reached a procedural agreement with moderate Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who supports repeal but wanted greater openness for the process of amending and passing the bill. Collins voted aye on the measure, but other Republicans who support repeal but had voiced similar procedural concerns -- Sens. Scott Brown and Lisa Murkowski -- voted no.
One Democrat, newly-elected Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, broke with his party to vote no.
The result means that repeal of the ban, enacted in 1993, is unlikely to be changed by Congress anytime soon. The policy is also currently being considered in court proceedings.
GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios said, "the Senate’s inaction on the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is not only disappointing, it undermines our national security and continues the unfair practice of discharging critical and skilled service members." He added, "today the media needs to amplify the voices of those patriotic and dedicated personnel being unfairly discharged simply because of who they are as well as the overwhelming public support to repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'"
While it may seem like this vote takes this story off the national radar, the media in fact has just become more important than ever. So here’s our message to the media: Keep asking and keep telling.
Continue to run public opinion polls on this topic. Survey after survey has revealed that the American people, across all demographic groups, support repealing this law and allowing troops to serve openly. Even the Pentagon's survey of those currently serving and their families showed that repealing the law would not harm military readiness. Ask the American people where they stand on this matter, and they will tell you they stand with letting the troops serve openly.
We also urge those in the news media to continue to give voice to the men and women of our armed forces who suffer under this discriminatory law, to those who have been denied the chance to serve, and those who were given the chance to serve and were then discharged.
Keep telling their stories, and maybe a few of those 40 Senators will get the message, which could give a new standalone bill announced by Senators Lieberman and Collins a chance to pass.
Despite the Senate’s failure to move the country forward this afternoon, we urge the media to continue asking the tough questions and to continue telling the stories of the men and women who just want to serve their country with honor.